Truth be told, I don’t always feel like smiling. Just like anyone else, when I’m upset, it’s the last thing I want to do. Yet you wouldn’t know it from my Facebook feed. So why smile when I don’t want to?
In my world there are three kinds of therapy: Beach therapy, which involves meditating by the ocean. Music therapy in which I surround myself with the loving hug of notes and cords and beats that heal my soul. And then there is photo therapy.
Recently I was met with a part of my personality I had no idea existed. And I was horrified, and ashamed to realize that it is a part of me. What’s worst is, I hurt someone I really care about with this personality trade I carry in me. That broke my heart, and had me in tears for days. If this was not enough, as I reflected back, I realized more and more times in my past this personality trade hurt me and others around me. I was crushed. First thing I did was to ask for forgiveness.
Next thing, now that I am aware of this trade I do not like – I decided to change. The thing is, change takes time (for me anyway) and it’s a process.
Meanwhile, as I am going through this emotional wave – life keeps going. I still need to post photos of me photographing my clients and networking on Facebook. I still need to get my own holiday photo done. How do I do it without tears in my eyes?
The power of Therapeutic Photography is that in these types of pictures I can be anyone I want to be. Even the woman I am currently working on becoming. I can create a reality that does not exist yet – and insert my current self there, to see myself as I want to be.
This is exactly what I do for my Therapeutic Photography clients when they come to my studio. Because the camera reflects things you can’t see with the naked eye. Because the camera can function as a time machine to take you into the future you want for yourself. Because the camera can capture your happy moment even when you are sad in the present, and give you a glimpse into the wonderful new life you wish for yourself. A glimpse that will make you happy, feel better, and inspire you to keep going through the rough times until you make it to this new reality you are creating for yourself. And if you forget, or the change you are making becomes hard, you can look back at these photos and be reminded by your own happy smile why you are making this change.
So when I was lucky enough to get Santa to come to the studio for my own holiday portrait, I knew this was my opportunity to give me some love through this difficult time using Therapeutic Photography.
This was me in the morning before the shoot, all teary eyed and everything:
As I was creating the scene for this shoot, I realized I was feeling a little better already. Using the hot glue gun to glue the dreidels and chocolate coins to the plate (for some reason using a glue gun always makes me happy) got a little smile out of me. It’s a start.
Then Shelby, my wonderful assistant, came to help me with this shoot. She was feeling down as well. A close family friend just passed away, and Shelby was full of sadness.
But as we completed setting up the first scene, Shelby was starting to feel better, and when Santa showed up she was starting to get excited about this shoot as well.
First scene went great, here is the final shot (Shelby clicking the camera – thank you!!!) from this “Dear Santa, I can explain” Jewish girl’s interpretation to a Christmas greeting card
Second scene I wanted to capture was a fantasy one. I always thought Jessica Rabbit is the most feminine thing I’ve ever seen. This past Halloween I bought a wig, and never used it. Now was the perfect time to use it, as I channeled my inner Jessica Rabbit for these shots (Isn’t Santa’s expressions just perfect? Dennis is SO GOOD as Santa!!)
I was happy with the photos and thought we were done, but then Dennis suggested I do some without the wig, and I remembered I had a Santa hat I wanted to wear. At this point of the shoot the three of us were having such a good time, I forgot I was sad. Here are a few proofs from this part of the shoot:
And then we captured THE shot. There she was. My future self. Happy, glowing. Funny. Soft and feminine. The inspiration I was looking for. I call this shot: “Santa, this is my wish”:
No, I am not going to tell you what I asked Santa for. But I will tell you that after the shoot was over, Santa started talking about the things people ask him for. I had to pick up the camera and click away as he was telling us about children asking that dad stops beating up mom. Mothers that ask for one more year of life before cancer takes them because their children need them. And grown men that ask just to be happy. Yes, all we all want is to be loved.
At the end of the shoot we took a couple of selfies. Here is one with Dennis Underwood the best Santa EVER!
And with my girl Shelby Gevin who clicked away my portraits with Santa so perfectly – I am SO proud of her.
Happy Holidays. And a quote from my favorite song “My Wish”:
“If its cold outside, show the world the warmth of your smile”
To hear the song “My Wish” CLICK HERE
To book Dennis Underwood as Santa CLICK HERE